Vandals spray paint hate messages at Jewish camp in Lakewood, N.J.

LAKEWOOD, N.J. (WPVI) -- Police in Ocean County are working to track down the vandals who used anti-Semitic images to deface a facility used by a Jewish children's summer camp.

Public works crews spent Friday scrubbing off and covering over a series of swastikas and other graffiti spray painted at a private playground off 2nd St. in Lakewood, New Jersey.

The playground is used by a Jewish summer camp called Ahavas Torah.

The mayor called the vandals cowards.

"This is very symbolic to hate and to eradicating the Jewish community," said Mayor Menashe Miller. "That's what happened in Germany - Nazi Germany - and Poland."

"And the symbol is here to say as well, 'We want you out of here,'" Miller continued. "Obviously there are people trying to intimidate those of us who live in town. Lakewood is obviously a predominantly Orthodox community."

"The contrast of the children who are so innocent with the message that's so full of hate, I think, speaks volumes for itself," said Rabbi Tuvia Steinharter.

The phrase "Heil Hitler," misspelled, was sprayed on a sliding board in addition to the swastikas.

"I would like to explain to them a little bit about what the swastika symbolizes and the message of hate that Hitler spread," said Rabbi Yitz Libersohn.

"They are trying to be hateful," said another man. "But how much do you think these people really know about the Holocaust?"

Police say they discovered at least two discarded spray paint cans on the playground, and they are having them analyzed to see if they can come up with some fingerprints.

The graffiti was discovered Thursday afternoon by children playing there.

Police don't know if teenagers or adults sprayed the hateful messages, but they are taking the investigation seriously.

"This is the second incident we've had since July," said Lakewood Police Lt. Greg Staffordsmith. "We don't know if they're related but, will do our best to find out."
Copyright © 2019 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.